Re: I think I misled you.

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Posted by Ken Kurtis on January 15, 2003 at 11:35:46:

In Reply to: I think I miss lead you. posted by Captain Tim on January 14, 2003 at 18:39:07:

In reading through the comments on this and the other board, it seems to me we're blending "authority" with "responsbility" with "duties" with "practicality" and it underscores why it's all such a gray area.

From a legal standpoint, I don't think a DM has any "authority" whatsoever. Can they "legally/authoritatively" prevent someone from diving? Probably not. SHOULD they prevent someone form diving? Aha!! There's the $64,000 question.

The rest of it depends on how pro-active or re-active you want your DM to be, and how you want "your" trips to run (whether you're a charter group running a trip or a boat doing an "open" trip).

If you simply want to be re-active, you'll respond to situations that occur, and usually that means you'll go get someone who's in trouble but generally not interact in other ways. If you want to be pro-active, you'll do that as well as a lot of other things thgat are designed to not only make the trip run smoothly and insure that everyone has a good time, but also to hopefully prevent/avert problems before they occur. (And as I like to say, you don't get sued for an accident that doesn't happen. And . . . it's always cheaper to refund a pissed-off diver than it ever will be to pay off the estate.)

From a practical standpoint, IMHO, the DM should be the lubricant the helps the trip run smoothly. (And this is admittedly a pro-active stance.) That might be anything from letting divers know gate times, to making sure everyone's had time to have an airfill, to performing minor repirs on gear, to counseling people who surface far away from the boat, to assists and rescues, etc.

In my mind, it seems that the goal of everyone (captain & DM) is to insure that the day goes without serious incident. It seems to me there are two ways to do that:

(1) Sit back and watch and hope everything goes well.
(2) Be a bit more aware/involved in what the divers are doing not only in hopes that everything goes well, but also hoping to nip problems in the bud.

For those of you who have been diving with Reef Seekers, you know that we're very pro-active and we feel it sets a tone that not only our divers are comfortable with but that our staff and the boats are comfortable with as well. Quick story about pro-active DMing:

Years ago we were doing a dive at Farnsworth. I was on the bow (the "jumper"), Loring was at the gate, Maurice was going to dive. Loring noticed one diver having a bit of trouble with his gear, gearing up awkwardly, and alerted me. The diver entered, didn't give an OK to the DM (but seemed okay), and just kicked face down to the anchorline. As he was kikcking forward, I noticed his octo was free-flowing. I yelled down to him from the deck but he didn't hear me and did a head-first surface dive when he got to the anchorline. I could see big bubbles of air coming up from his free-flowing octo, and I remember thinking, "I don't like the looks of this."

Now none of these things alone was a "red" flag but there were enough "pink" flags that I yelled down to Maurice (now in the water and heading to the anchorline), "Diver with the lime green fins. Catch up with him and check his air."

Maurice headed down and caught the guy at about 100' (and heading deeper). Maurice tapped him on the shoulder and motioned to the pressure gauge. The guy gave an OK sign. Maurice indicated, "Look at it with your eyes." The guy did and again gave an OK sign. Maurice swiveled the gauge around (remember - they're at 100' and probably less than 3 minutes into this dive) and the guy had . . . 400psi.

Maurice pointed to the gauge and signaled "Up" and they started up together. Around 50' the guy gave an out-of-air signal and Maurice put him on his (Maurice's) octo and finished the ascent that way.

Now I can never "prove" this, but I am absolutely convinced in my mind that had we NOT been pro-active, this guy would have sucked his tank dry at 100', tried to do a free ascent, and possibly/probably embolized. In my mind, we averted what could have been an ugly and perhaps fatal situation.

So I think a lot of this doesn't so much come down to "authority" as it does come down to the mental comfort level of those running the dives (captain, charterer, DM). Do the things in a way that will let you sleep at night and don't violate agency standards or common sense.

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instr. #5936
Co-owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, CA

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